international reputation to some extent protected them from
persecution by the authorities. However, when in 1974 KGB agents
discovered a copy of Solzhenitsyn’s manuscript
The Gulag Archipelago,
the authorities had had enough. The book, a copy of which had been
smuggled to the West and published there, disclosed the chief Soviet
secret about the scale, history, and methods of Stalin’s terror.
Written as a work of political journalism, it was based on
interviews with hundreds of victims of Stalinist repressions, as
well as the writer’s own experience in a labor camp as part of a
ten-year sentence as punishment for a critical remark about Stalin
made in a letter to a friend. In contrast to Khrushchev’s “secret
speech,” Solzhenitsyn’s book was a profound and fundamental
condemnation of the entire Soviet system. The writer rejected the
notion of Stalinism and treated the events of Stalin’s era as part
of Lenin’s legacy and as a logical development of Bolshevism.